Release date: July 22, 1975
Release number: 75-051

Release Details

The opinion, which will be published soon in the Federal Register, clarifies questions of Commission jurisdiction over household aerosol products and outlines action the agency plans to take on various aerosol issues raised by the petitions.

By a 3-2 vote, the Commission has decided it has jurisdiction over mechanical hazards associated with all household aerosol containers, except for pesticide packaging regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Also by a 3-2 vote, the Commission has determined that it lacks jurisdiction to regulate propellants used with food, drug, cosmetic or pesticide aerosol products. Aerosol propellants used with foods, drugs and cosmetics are subject to regulation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and those utilized with pesticides are under the authority of the EPA. All other consumer aerosol propellants fall within CPSC authority.

Denial of the PAM Club petition was informally announced on June 20 after the Commission decided it lacked jurisdiction over the aerosol cooking lubricant "Pam" because it was a food product. The PAM Club sought a ban on "Pam" alleging it had been linked to a number of deaths due to intentional inhalation by teenagers.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest asked the Commission on November 12, 1973, to undertake wide ranging investigation and regulation of aerosol hazards.

Responding to the petition, the Commission announced the following action on aerosols:

-Chronic Hazards: The Commission will support research which could lead to the development of test methods for the objective evaluation of chronic hazards associated with individual aerosol products. The Commission currently is conducting applied inhalation research to develop basic criteria for evaluating products for potential acute and/or chronic hazards. Research includes inhalation studies of vinyl chloride and other chemicals and evaluation of the adequacy of current toxicity test procedures. Identification of chronic hazards could result in regulatory action and labeling requirements as well as additional pre-market testing by manufacturers.

-Intentional Misuse: The Commission plans a comprehensive education program to alert consumers to the dangers of intentional misuse of aerosol products, as well as other aerosol hazards including danger of explosion related to improper disposal.

-Misdirection of Sprays: The Commission will seek voluntary industry action to deal with problems associated with aerosol containers that present risks of injury due to inadequate means to properly direct the spray. If the industry does not deal with this problem voluntarily, the Agency may take formal regulatory action.

-Child-Resistant Packaging: The Commission will continue to examine the need for child-resistant packaging for additional products that could pose serious risks of injury due to their accessibility to young children. The staff also will evaluate present test methods for hazards such as eye irritancy to determine if new methods are necessary to measure hazards posed by aerosols to small children.

-Labeling: The Commission is investigating consumers' awareness of labeling on aerosol products which are associated with injuries in order to find out whether existing labeling requirements could be improved to reduce or eliminate risks of injury.

CSPI also asked the Commission to investigate the safety of aerosol containers and to require explosion-proof containers. Based on injury investigations and other information, the Commission found that it lacked evidence to determine that aerosol containers present an unreasonable risk of injury from explosions to consumers and denied this request without prejudice.

In related action, the Commission on July 10, 1975, informally announced it had denied without prejudice a petition submitted November 20, 1974, by the Natural Resource Defense Council to ban fluorocarbon propellants in aerosols. The NRDC alleged that fluorocarbons are contributing to the depletion of the protective ozone layer in the upper atmosphere.

The Commission denied the petition in a 3-2 vote on the basis of the recommendation contained in the Federal government's task force report to delay regulatory action pending results of a National Academy of Science study by next spring.

Formal denial of the NRDC petition will be published in the Federal Register in the near future.

Copies of the consolidated opinion on the PAM Club and CSPI petitions will be available from the Office of the Secretary, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 1750 K Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20207. (Telephone: 202/634-7700).

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